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The use of technology during these unusual times



A chance phone call six months ago, brought me here - Production Manager at Northam Media. It was a great opportunity and after almost 12 years with the AP, I needed a change from the 24/7 news cycle.

I had worked with most of the Northam team years ago when I was a satellite manager at CNBC. In 2008, I left for the Associated Press, where I worked my way up to Head of Special News Events overseeing breaking news stories across Europe and planning large-scale events. During my time I worked on events such as the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Royal weddings and births, various elections, and recently Brexit.

I was excited about my new role at Northam and couldn’t wait to jump in! But after just four weeks the UK shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So now what?” I thought.

I know it’s important to stay relevant, but with the crisis throwing up a multitude of challenges it can be easy to press pause. Every business owner around the world had to quickly ask themselves ‘As a company how do you still deliver? What can you do differently and creatively?’

For me, it’s been fascinating to see how companies are adapting so quickly to bring live broadcasts to life. Television shows are being broadcast even though studios have shut down. Presenters are creating makeshift studios in their basements. And many are using traditional online video platforms to broadcast their message.

But then there are those who are going the extra mile.

The NFL draft is a great example. The draft is an annual event in the US where players are recruited or traded into major league football. Millions of dollars are at stake and, for football fans, it’s a crucial event that determines the success of their team. Once the NFL realised they couldn’t broadcast in the usual way, creativity kicked into overdrive. NFL Media deployed hundreds of iPhone production kits to general managers, owners and potential draft picks – creating a virtual experience. Approximately 16 million people tuned in and witnessed the instant reactions and raw emotion of players and their families as they were drafted right in their living rooms. It was exciting to watch! As one general manager said, "The draft may have just evolved."

One World: Together at Home was another global event that raised the bar. To date, the historic six-hour broadcast drew over 270 million viewers from 175 countries and raised almost $130 million. This lockdown version of Live Aid showcased 19 musical performances and various guest spots from celebrity homes around the world. Many were beamed in using smartphones and online video platforms - and production values varied. However, no one could deny the event was a huge success.

LiveU is also helping businesses and media companies broadcast their message live. The company is using the LU-smart app for remote broadcasting, allowing reporters and journalists to set up makeshift studios in their homes. While working at the AP, LiveU devices were incredible in allowing us to deploy quickly with minimal kit. It made the difference between being first on the scene and getting the best shot, or losing out.

I’m really excited to tap into all this technology to help our clients continue to communicate with their audience. Reacting to breaking news and live events has always been my passion. I love that I can bring those skills to Northam Media in new and exciting ways for all of our clients.


Charlie AL-Zaid

Production Manager, Northam Media


#Covid19 #Coronavirus #Smallbusiness #Videoproduction #remoteproduction

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